A moment in Tim

Well first and foremost I have to say…. I’m back!  To those of you who used to swing by here on a regular basis, I will apologize for disappearing on you.  It was never planned to disappear for that long.  One day I was writing and posting on the regular.  The next day life and moming and jobing and adulting got in the way.  And the words stopped coming.  I hope you’ll forgive my absence and visit again.  For those of you new to my Chaos, welcome!  I hope you like it and come back too!  Now, since the words have returned…so will I!

In the last year and a half, I have become a little bit of a CrossFit junkie. I decided after 20+ years of running that I needed to shake things up.  Seven days and over 30 miles a week just wears on you.  My treadmill was bored with me and I had run out of Netflix shows to watch.  That’s when I met my new love… CrossFit.  (My apologies to my hubby, but there is just something about throwing up heavy weights and climbing a rope that makes me swoon.  But that’s a blog for another day.)

In my world, workouts get down before the sun comes up. I love my family, but the only time I can get anything done without interruptions is to crank it out while they are dead to the world, so I am a solid up at 4:30 am at the box for 5 am class type of girl.

If you know anything about CrossFit, we are in the depths of The Open right now, a series of five grueling workouts that test you both physically and mentally.  A few days after the latest WOD, I woke up at 2:45 with tremendous, shooting back pain.  No combination of pillows or body contortions would make it stop so I could return to dreamland.  After 30 minutes of trying, I gave up and got on my workout clothes.  (You know, that activewear many just wear to actively get coffee and have their nails done.  I make mine earn its name.)  I had planned to pick up some groceries after class, but decided, since I was already up, I may as well hit the store first.

You know what Wal-Mart is like at 3:30 am…glorious.  Sure, there are employees in the aisles stocking shelves and palettes to dodge, but you now what wasn’t there…other shoppers.  It was phenomenal! I was able to navigate the whole store, get all the household items and a week’s worth of grocery for four (I have a 14-year-old boy, so it was more like groceries for 6), and hit the checkout in under 30 minutes.

And that’s where I met him.

You know what happens when there are no shoppers at Wal-Mart?  There are no checkouts open, so me and my overflowing grocery cart saddled up to the self-check out station and got to work.  Before I had even scanned the first item, the security guard walked over to me with a second shopping cart.

“Hi!  Good Morning!  Here, this will make it easier to you.  You can just put the full ones in it.”  

After wheeling me over the cart, he leaned up against the wall next to me and started talking.  At first it was the usual, the gorgeous weather we just had, hopes it would stick around permanently, fear we would get still one more snow storm before spring really arrived.  Polite small talk.  Nice.  Friendly.  Then he started talking about a meal he had recently with his mom and brother.  He lives with his mom.  His washer recently broke.  He didn’t have the money to buy a new one, so his mom found a place that sells used appliances and helped him purchase one.  He said it had actually broken weeks before he told his mom, but he didn’t want to upset her with the news, so he’d been washing his clothes in the sink for a while now.  

He has an uncle who has a vacation house and a boat.  Boat upkeep is expensive!  He wished he had enough money to be able to have a boat.  But his uncle is a very nice man.  Invites them over and helps him out.  The kind of guy who would keep giving you the shirt off his back time after time, no questions asked. 

They struggle, but they get by.  Tim’s dad was supposed to leave him and his brother some land and inheritance in his will, but he changed it right before he died and left everything to his step mom.  He looked hurt.  His dad wasn’t a nice guy.  We was a jerk (not the words he used, but I cleaned it up for you.) Oh well, that’s how things go I guess.

He shared about a visit with his dad from a while back.  His dad was starting to say something derogatory towards a person of color that was nearby.  He stopped his dad, told him you can’t say that.  That’s not ok.  His dad attempted to belittle him for not ‘manning up.’  I’m not that type of person.  I don’t feel that way about others.  People are people.  We’re all here together.  

I finished up the last of my items and headed out.  I thanked him for the talk and wished him a good day.

“What’s your name?” 

“Kerry”

“Hey Kerry.  I’m Tim.  Have a great day!” 

Tim stopped time.  Tim slowed me down.  Tim was kind.  Tim was honest.  Tim was open.  We could all learn a lot from Tim.  I know I did.

Worth it

As I type, I should be getting ready to go to my third New Kids On the Block concert.  I few months ago, my bestie Tina asked me if I wanted to go with her and a group of ladies making a trek to a showing of the Total Package tour in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I jumped at the open ticket and seat in their vehicle.

I first saw NKOTB in high school in 1989.  My friend Kristi and I were in the nose bleed section and screamed our little hearts out.  My favorite boys returned to my hometown in 2008 and Tina and I were able to see them live then.  It was a great concert and a wonderful night re-living our youth.  This year’s concert was going to be an extra bonus.  Not only would I get to see my guys, but Boys II Men and 96 Degrees were completing the package, and a girls weekend away was the icing on the cake.

I was all set to go and then….

You see, for those of you who are avid readers, you know that, while I have my boy band obsession, my sweet Lil’ IP has her own teenage crush on a little boy band you might have heard of…. One Direction.  As luck (or bad timing) would have it, One Direction planned a summer tour this year as well.  Unfortunately, all the concerts sold out within minutes of going on sale and tickets were none to be had.  Lil’ IP was crushed.

As I was making some final preps to my trip, my Lil’ IP made a comment about me getting to see my boy band for the third time, while she had never seen hers.

Nothing pulls at a mother’s heart-strings like some good old-fashioned guilt.  I usually don’t fall for it, but I thought back to the utter elation I felt when I saw Donnie Wahlberg (admitting a very tiny Donnie Wahlberg for my seat location) walk onto that stage when I was her age.  I felt like my life was complete.  I knew, that if it was possible, I had to make that same magic happen for her.

I started a little online digging.  I knew that I wouldn’t find face value tickets and had actually prepped myself for worse prices than I found.  Of course, there were people with ridiculous asking prices, but I found a number of tickets that were within a price range that I was comfortable with forking over without worrying about my next mortgage payment.  One problem, although the tours were going to the same cities a few days apart, the tickets I found were to a city in the opposite direction of my New Kids concert, the day before.  No way to make both concerts.

After a quick parental summit, the decision was made to bite the bullet and fulfill a little girl’s dream.

The next thing I had to do was break the news to my gal that I was backing out of our trip.  That was tough.  Bye-bye Donnie.  Hello Niall.  No Hangin’ Tough for me.  I want you to Rock Me.  Please Don’t Go Girl….I’m sorry, but I had to, this time I’m putting another girl first.

And by the looks of it, I think I made the right choice.

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I was all set to let her have her evening.  I was sure it would be fun for her, but I didn’t know if I would enjoy it as much.  I have to say.  Those new boys on the boy band block put on one heck of a gig.  I spent all of the night up out of my seat, dancing along with all the girls and singing along to the lyrics I knew.

I mean, who wouldn’t dance to that?

As the high-pitched squeals reached unthinkable decibels, the flash backs of my New Kids concert started to hit me.  Next, came the tears.  Yes, I was crying at the 1D concert.  It wasn’t for what I had given up or what I was missing, I was crying because I had done it.  I had seen it come full circle.  I had made that memory of a lifetime for my daughter, the same one I had made for myself years ago.

This is why we do what we do.  This is why we work so hard.  It’s not for expensive things and bling to impress the neighbors, it’s to truly enjoy the life that we are given.  To live while we’re young.  To enjoy these moments and make all the memories we can.  When I go, I can’t take any of the stuff with me, but she and I will always have this memory of this evening…and that makes any sacrifice worth it.

As I listened to the lyrics of one the songs, I said a little pray that my Lil’ IP will see, everyday, in herself the beauty and talent that she has.  That she will continue to light up the world around her like nobody else can.

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At least I know I’m loved

My kids go to Catholic School.  Every year they have a volunteer mass where they honor all the parents, neighbors, parishioner, and others who have volunteered during the school year.  Since I’m always at work during their weekly masses, I usually try to make it the volunteer mass each year.  A few weeks ago, I put in my sheet for the time off to attend today’s event.

As it just so happens, today is also my mom’s birthday.  Today she’s (29×2) + 3.  (My mom insists on staying 29, so the rest of us comply with her wishes….sort of.)

As we were all running around this morning getting ready, Paige called my mom to wish her a happy birthday, then we jetted off to school.  Just as mass was starting, my phone began vibrating.  I looked at it and noticed it was work.  Someone must have seen my office was empty, but didn’t talk to the main office to see that I was coming in late.  Oh well, I’ll return the call after mass.

Then a few minutes later, it goes off again.

Then another call.  This time from a different co-worker.

I know I turned in my paperwork, I hope there’s not an emergency at work.

Then IP‘s phone starts ringing.

A few more minutes later, I get a call from my mom.

Then another on my phone from work.

Then one from my mom’s cell phone.

Oh crap, there’s an emergency all right, but it’s not at work, its me.

Our father, hallelujah, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!   Please say Mass has ended, so I can go in peace to love and serve the Lord and calm the nerves of my loved ones.

When I step outside to start returning calls, luckily, I’m greeted with endless laughter as I find out the extent to which the Finding Kerry saga reached.

When I didn’t arrive at work, they were worried.  I’m always on time, heck usually early, but no panic yet.  When I wasn’t there after 30 minutes, the calls started.  After not reaching me on my cell or at home, then not reaching IP, they called my mom.

“We don’t want to alarm you, but Kerry didn’t arrive at work today.  She didn’t call.  It’s not like her.”

“Well, I talked to Paige this morning and heard Kerry in the background.  Let me make a few calls.”

Mom decided her best first move was to call the kid’s school.  If they had been dropped off, she could start her search between there and my work.  If they weren’t at school, then she would make a B-line to my house.  Quick to action and ready to roll.  I think mom may have missed her calling by not becoming a detective.

She called the school.  “Um, this is going to sound like a weird question, but, I’m Paige and Trystan‘s grandma.  We can’t find their mom.  Were the kids dropped off at school?”

“Yep, they’re here.  Let me get the Principal for you.”

The Principal, in her infinite wisdom, scanned the pews at Mass before coming to the phone.

“Hi.  She’ in church.”

Praise the Lord!  I had been found.

Aw shucks….I might have looked good on a milk carton.

Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, um, I mean my work, they were feverishly digging through the paperwork, hoping to find proof that I wasn’t supposed to be there.  Eureka!  I’ve found it!  Kerry, 4/25, out 8-10 am at kid’s Mass.  Then my director asked the key question….”Did I sign the sheet?”  “Yes, yes you did.”

When mom called my work back to give them the good news, they relayed to her the mix-up with the paperwork and apologized for the near heart-attack they offered her as a birthday present.

I arrived at work to cheers, applause, and hugs.  The prodigal co-worker that was once lost, had been found.

Some times you walk through life not knowing if others around you really care, if you’re actually seen, if you’d really be missed.  Today I learned how kind, loving, and caring my friends at work truly are.  I’m proud to say that you have given me my Sally Field moment…

You like me, you really like me!

And I love you all!

 

 

 

 

All dressed up

A couple of times a year, my husband and I have the opportunity to attend a few fancy, fundraiser dinners for some of his clients.  Being that we are part of ‘the help,’ it’s fun to get all prettied up and rub elbows with the movers and the shakers of our city, dreaming of one day maybe being on that side of the tracks.

One such night was on Saturday.

Since sparkly dresses and high heels are not part of my social worker attire, it was a perfect opportunity to get out and get my shop on.  I ventured into a couple of different stores, trying on dress after dress, finding nothing that would work.  Maybe it was because I’m 37 and they only make dresses for either teenagers or old ladies.  Maybe it was because it was January and the flourescent lighting against my pale winter skin made me look sickly in everything.  Maybe it was because I was wearing these,

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and all dressed looked ridiculous paired with them.

After trying and having no luck at other stores, I finally went back to my tried and true dress shop, the one that, despite its poorly named brand, has never failed me when I was in a dress crisis…. Dress Barn.  If you’ve never been to a Dress Barn, you should really give it a try.  I always avoided entering the store myself.  I saw the name on the marquee and assumed that it held racks of country, square-dancing style frocks that I would not like.

Luckily I was proved wrong.

I had a true dress emergency one fine summer day.  My son was two.  We were sitting in the third row at my cousin’s wedding when I heard the beginning sounds of a projectile vomit beginning to emit from his body.  With my cat-like reflexes, I was able to cover the first come-up-ence with his blanket.  Then I did what any good mother would do, I spun him around into my chest and took the full brunt of the second round into my chest and all over my dress.  As discretely as possible, I walked out of the ceremony.  When my husband caught up with me, I passed off the messy boy, grabbed the car keys and took off to find something new to wear before the reception.  This was the day I discovered that Dress Barn not only sold nice dresses I liked, but also pants, tops, jeans, and accessories, all at reasonable prices.  I’ve been back for all my dress needs ever since.

I walked in, looked right, and immediately found my dress for the evening.  Since I didn’t want the gas to the store to go to waste, I decided to look around and found this cute outfit to add to my closet….both the top and the jeans were on clearance.  SCORE!

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The night of the event, as I was getting myself shoved into my pantyhose and then wedged into my full body shaper, my daughter walked into our room.  “Is that your dress?”, she asked.

“No. It’s my shaper.”

“Why do you need that?”

“Because I’m 37 and things aren’t always where I want them to be, or not be.  Being a woman is fun.”

I think I may have scarred her.

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All sucked in and pushed up, off to the event we were!  It was a great event.  Beautiful venue, wonderful food, stealing a night out without the kids, surrounded by people with money and dreaming of actually being able to afford all the arts, trips, and bobbles that were up for grabs at the auction.

A diamond encrusted, heart-shaped ring.  Slightly more than the usually Valentine’s Day chocolates.   A trip to LA to attend a red carpet movie premiere, complete with a custom gown.  The kids would love to be left home alone, but then, they would be more mad I had to sell them to buy it.  A personal chef comes to your house to cater and evening for you and 12 friends, then you are wisked off to the opera.  I would need to skip the mortgage payment to make the bid, so where would I host my soiree?  A original Jeff Hanson piece of artwork that went for $11,000.  Darn, if only I hadn’t already bought groceries this week, I might have been able to nab that one….

Having fun with things with won't be bidding on.

Having fun with things with won’t be bidding on.

As I took a quick look around the room, I noticed something I hadn’t expected.  A majority of the people in the room did not look happy.  Sure some were, but many were not, some unhappy, some bored, some looking obligated, others annoyed.  Somewhere inside of me, even though we all know that “Money doesn’t buy happiness“, I still believe that if I had more money, I would be incredible happy.  Being able to buy anything I needed, would take all the unnecessary stress out of my life and I would just leak with joy.  It’s a fancy night out, drinks, food, dancing, sparkles all around, but people didn’t look happy.  People at a mid-July outdoor concert, knee-deep in mud; they look happy.  People at a Renaissance Faire, dressed in their garb and reenacting scenes; they look happy.  These party goers, with money burning a hole in their pockets, they just didn’t look happy.

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Dinner had, speeches given, and desserts consumed, there was nothing left to do, but top the night off with some coffee.

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Where’s the #&*%in’ coffee????  You would think if they went through the trouble of putting coffee cups, sugar, and creamer on the table, that they would come around to offer a lady coffee!?!?  Oh well….

We got home, peeled off the fancys and layers of compression, jumped into our sweats, turned on the Keurig, and kicked back on our couch.  As I looked around our house, I smiled.  I may not have the most expensive, largest, or most lavish house, but I am truly happy with the life Peter and I have made for ourselves.  We met when we were 18 and 20.  We had nothing, literally.  We’ve worked hard for what we have and have earned every bit of it.  We are truly blessed to have a house filled with family and love.  Money couldn’t buy this if it tried.

 

And your whole world changes…

 

You know those times in your life when you get a call and you know the information you are about to hear is going to change your life.  You know you need to get to your destination to hear the news, but you want to find something, anything to delay hearing what you have to hear, because you know once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.  Your whole life, your whole world view will forever be changed.  Your destiny, your plans will be altered.  Your foundation will be shaken.  You know you won’t shatter, but you’ll wound and need to heal and forever you’ll be a different person.

I got that call 16 days ago.  It was from my dad.  I needed to get to my parent’s house now.  I knew instantly that what I was about to hear wasn’t going to be good.  I could feel it in my heart.  It wanted to jump in the car right away and I equally wanted to shampoo all my rugs and then clean out the closets, anything to delay the inevitable.  I looked at my husband.  He told me to get in the car and go.  I told him I would.  Then I stood there, trying to come up with a good excuse to waste time.  I has none, so I got in my car and started to drive, ticking off the miles and landmarks.  That’s the last time I’ll leave my house in this reality.  Another street light, another crossroads.  I’m getting closer.  Wanting to turn back, to stop myself from having to hear it, knowing I couldn’t and that I had to keep moving forward.  I parked outside my parent’s house and turned off my truck.  I’m here.  This is it.  Once I walk in that door, my life changes….

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My mom is and always has been my best friend.  Not in the “let you do what you want, I’ll even sacrifice teaching you responsibility and how to be an adult,” type of way.  No, quite the opposite.  She was the right type of best friend.  She was always a mother, always a parent.  I had rules, boundaries, and limits balanced equally with listening, patience, and love.  I could go to her with any concern, any question.  She was there for me at anytime, for anything.  If she was ever disappointed in me, I never knew, and I felt the appropriate amount of guilt to get me back on track.  She only showed love and support, care and encouragement.  My childhood is full of happy memories wrapped around my mother.

Every Sunday my mom and I would scan the ads and go shopping.  We would tell my dad that we were just going window shopping, but that never happened.  We would always end up finding something we couldn’t live without and have to sneak it in the house, convincing my dad that “this old thing” had been around forever.

To remain “hip” or “rad” to her children, she would make up her own slang.  I secretly think she just messed up the real latest slang, but she always played if off as the latest phrase.  Did you know that things could be “Hot Dog Good!”?  Or that sometimes people should just “cool out!”?

I bought my first cell phone in college, back when they still sold 200 minute plans and you paid by the minute through the nose if you went over.  For my 200 minutes, I paid something ridiculous like $30 a month.  (I know…$30 a month!)  I thought that there would be no way that I would go over my minutes, I mean, seriously, I was only going to use this phone for emergencies, like car trouble or being chased by a serial killer.  Then I got my first bill.  I nearly died.  I had gone over my time and owed extra per minute.  As I scanned the bill, I noticed all of my calls were to my mother…who I still lived with and saw every morning and night.

About 14 years ago, by husband took a job out-of-state and we attempted to move away.  We backed up our belongings and moved across the country.  Mom went with to help us move, planning to stay a week and take the train back.  She helped us pack, drive, move in, and unpack.  Long story short, we didn’t stay and moved back within a week.  Mom canceled the train ticket and helped us re-pack, drive back and re-move into the place with left a week prior.  She said that was the last time she went on vacation with us, our cats, and our furniture.

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I walked into my parents house and was told the following words…. Your mom has cancer.  I can’t have heard that right.  My mom just turned 60, she can’t have cancer.  She just can’t.  This isn’t happening.  Life changed.  World forever altered.

The following two weeks were a whirlwind of worry, questions, waiting, hoping and praying.  Waiting for the oncology appointment.  Waiting for the surgery date.  Worrying about what the surgery outcome would be.  Worrying about what the future would hold.  Being afraid…so afraid of all the questions, that unknown.  There were just too many possibilities.  Wanting to hope for the best.  Praying for the best.  Praying that you’d done enough right in your life that you could trade those good deeds in for a big ol’ miracle.

Yesterday was the day.  Surgery day.  The day when we’d start to get answers and begin the road down one path or the other.  Best case scenario, the surgery gets all the cancer and mom just has to be monitored for make sure it stays gone.  Worst case scenario, it’s spread already and then the future continues to change.  I wanted so bad to say that we were going to hear good news, but didn’t want to tempt fate by verbalizing it.   We smiled, we hugged, we tried to ease each other’s fears.  The prayers had been put out into the universe and the rest was out of our hands.  They wheeled her down the hall to her future.

After what seemed like both and eternity and the snap of a finger, the nurse moved us to a private room to meet with the doctor.  The cancer was contained to the organ.  The cancer had not evaded the organ wall.  He was confident he got it all.  He has no reason to believe there will be the need for additional treatment.  He believes that got it all.

And then we all let out the breath we didn’t know we were holding in.

Our prayers were answered.

My mom has had cancer.

I know that she deserved every answered prayer and miracle she was given.

I’m not so sure that I did, but I’ll live the rest of my life trying to prove myself worthy.

 

15 years and still enjoying the ride

WARNING – This blog is sappy and lovely dovey…. you have been warned.

Yesterday my darling husband and I celebrated 15 years of marriage.  I know, you’re thinking, how can that be?  They are too young.  Did they get married at 12???  Thank you…you’re too kind…no, not 12, but close.

Peter and I met when we were 18 and 20.  I didn’t date a whole bunch of people before I met Peter because I didn’t want to.  I would meet people and think they were nice, we would talk a little, and then I would get bored or annoyed by them and that was it.  When I met Peter, it all felt different.  I would think about him all the time.  I couldn’t wait to talk to him or see him.  We met in the days prior to cell phones and email and spent the first two years we dated living 3 hours apart.  I lived for weekend trips to one of our campuses and holiday and summer breaks.  We wrote long, sappy letters to each other and racked up horrible long distance bills.

I knew Peter was the one for me because the time I had with him was never enough.  The more time we had together, the more I wanted.  I was able to let him behind my walls.  He became my rock, my everything.  Everyday, every moment was an adventure, making me want more.  Every sunrise was prettier and every moment was more meaningful.

Now, of course, we have had our share of challenges and trials, but, when those times come, I know that I can get through anything because of the man I have beside me.  The trying times have made us stronger and have made me realize that I wouldn’t want to go through this life with anyone else.

Plus it helps to always have a lot fun along the way.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

As I write, I’m sitting in the glow of my post mother’s day breakfast in bed, surrounded my the few sections of the paper I was given and my empty coffee cup, I had an epiphany……

We are all the best mother’s in world.  Every year, heck, everyday, you hear someone thank their mother for being the best, and they are right.

To each of us, our mother was the best mother in the world.  She was there for us when we needed her.  She laughed and cried with us.  She cheered us on to success and picked us up when we fell.  She was there with a hug, a kiss, or a tissue, whatever the situation called for.  She loved and liked us at our worse.  She was there  with advice when we needed it and bit her tongue when she knew we needed to learn the lesson the hard way to really understand.

Being a mom myself, I worry constantly if i’m doing X or Y correctly, if this or that decision will screw up my kids for life.  Daily I make mistakes, forget things, yell too loud, nag too much, get angry too quickly.  But I also know, I come running when they are hurt, I know their likes and dislikes, I listen to their stories and tales, I talk to them – not at them, I give hugs and affection everyday (even at school or in front of their friends – I’m your mom.  It’s my right.  Deal with it!), and I always, ALWAYS, tell them that I love them at least three times a day.

Despite all my screw up and what I’ve seen as disappointments, my kids still think I’m the best.  They still love me unconditionally.

We spend too much time beating ourselves up, having mommy wars, arguing one way of parenting is better than another.  The truth is the only vote that matters comes from the ones that we brought into this world.  And, if you ask them, they will tell you that you are hands-down, out-of-this-world, the best, A+, #1, WORLD’S BEST MOM!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow #1’s!